A new IFC (International Finance Corporation) report, http://www1.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/corp_ext_content/ifc_external_corporate_site/ifc+news/news/tosjobstudy?cid=ISG_E_WBWeeklyUpdate_NL outlines the tremendous gap in terms of education and workforce readiness. Between skills needed and availability of people to fill gaps in the labor market.
Jobs also are the principal way out of poverty. To take advantage of this potential, the world must act urgently to overcome a double challenge. First, some 200 million people are currently unemployed, many of them young people, and itis estimated that by 2020, some 600 million jobs need to be created, mainly in Africa and Asia, largely due to demographic trends. Second, the new jobs must be good jobs. Almost a third of workers are still poor, and about half—particularly women— are informal workers. In some of the poorest countries, informality and underemployment, rather than unemployment, are the main issues.
In other blogs, I’ve commented on how the mismatch between supply and demand has impacted the U.S. labor market and the implications which this has for changing the pattern of unemployment affecting both highly educated workers and those with only a high school education. While certainly this issue has far greater impact in the developing world, we should not think that there is no relationship between how we struggle to close the gap in preparing all our students for employment, and what is happening elsewhere in the world. We know that income inequality has grown in America; we know that the gap between those able to receive a college education and those who do not has grown wider. And we also know that – by a wide margin – not every student who is enrolled in college completes the degree.
By 2019, we will see a larger number of minority children in the U.S. than white children. By 2043, minorities will make up the largest part of our population.
Why am I citing these stats here ? Because this means that unless we see fundamental changes made in how we educate children throughout our educational systems, it seems to me we are headed for a more permanent and structural divide in our society in terms of employment opportunities. And this demographic change will only widen gaps that are evident now in international education: e.g. in terms of the diversity of those who study abroad and who thus gain an important strategic advantage in terms of their employability.